The grand final of the Eurovision travelling circus hits town tonight. This time, the old imperial seat of the Hapsburgs, Vienna, is the venue for the annual glitterfest of frightful frocks and terrible tunes. The BBC has chosen posh celebrity cook and reformed coke head, Nigella Lawson to announce the verdict of the UK jury. I hope she doesn’t get too sniffy about it.
This year’s no-hope entry for Royaume Uni is Still in Love with You by Electro Velvet. God alone knows why Auntie Beeb thinks a daft Charleston pastiche with no discernible chorus stands the slightest chance of making it to the left hand side of the leader board. Still, I hear torch song dirges are big this year (along with the hair) so who knows? Electro Velvet might just rise above the slash-your-wrist ditties.
PS. The man who coined the phrase ‘Eurovision’ died in 2010 at the grand old age of 94. His name was George Campey. I’m saying nothing.
PPS. The UK entry flopped yet again. Has the BBC given up trying?
Liam hyperventilated at the prospect of watching Eurovision’s Greatest Hits, an extravaganza beamed across Europe by the BBC to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the travelling camp fest. I slipped a little something in his Rioja to calm him down. Compered by Graham Norton in his newly acquired hipster whiskers and the posh-frocked Swede, Petra Mede, the show featured some of the contest’s most iconic/dire/fabulous/dreadful (delete according to taste) songs from times past – Brotherhood of Man, Johnny Logan, Lordi, Nicole, Bobby Socks (who?) to name but a few. Sadly, ABBA didn’t reform for the celebration but the BBC did chuck in Riverdance to get the feet tapping (an interval act that was one of the best things to ever emerge from the competition).
Eurovision has come a long way since Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson represented Le Royaume-Uni in 1959 with Sing, Little Birdie. Now we have the transgender Dana International (winner for Israel in 1998) and Conchita Wurst, the bearded lady (winner for Austria 2014) singing a duet holding hands. Way to go, sisters – changing the world one sequin at a time and really pissing off the bigots.
Conchita Wurst’s hair-raising victory at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was historic for two reasons:
- A country not associated with the Balkans, Baltic and/or the former Soviet Union actually won for a change; and
- She was a he in a frock and whiskers (just in case you hadn’t noticed).
Naturally, the Russian Orthodox Church (among other right wing reactionaries) is outraged by the swirling cesspit of sodomites that the contest has become. After all, real bearded men don’t wear dresses do they?
The Eurovision Song Contest is like herpes. There is no cure. The overblown glittery bandwagon pulls into Copenhagen this year, no doubt costing the Danish economy more than the Nazi occupation. Reduced to back-slapping bonhomie between neighbours and century-old foes, the songfest has been given an extra political frisson this year by the nasty homophobic laws in Russia and Tsar Putin’s annexation/repatriation (delete according to taste) of the Crimea; continued unrest in eastern Ukraine might earn Kiev a few sympathy votes from other former Soviet Republics and old Warsaw Pact nations. In a strange twist of fate, the people of Crimea can vote for Russia because the telephone service hasn’t yet switched sides, so it could be douze points from Ukraine. They may be the only points Russia gets. We can only hope.
Last year, Turkey threw a hissy fit and withdrew from the competition. It hasn’t entered this year either but nobody’s noticed, well apart from Liam who is terribly upset. In any case, Prime Minister Erdoğan’s probably banned the extravaganza along with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Alan Carr’s Chatty Man. Britain’s entry is Children of the Universe sung by Molly Smitten-Downes. No, me neither. We could enter the Teletubbies for all the difference it would make. Our money’s on the Austrian drag queen if only to get up the noses of our more reactionary cousins east of the Oder-Neisse Line.
The lead up to the show always causes a flurry of excited emails between Europhiles and Eurosceptics. This year was no different in the Scott-Brennan household. Here’s a small selection:
“Talking of Eurovision, your thoughts on Molly’s effort? We like Sweden, and there are a few anti-Russian efforts which should add to the event. I’m sure the TV sets in Moscow will go blank when the first bars of Austria’s entry wail in. We can only hope. Really looking forward to the annual camp-fest. Oh, I’m such a cliché.”
“Actually, we’re not quite in the Euro groove yet – we’re fashionably late this year with our research. Yes, we have heard the Brit entry- bit of a screamer who’ll probably sing flat on the night. They always do, you know. So what’s the Russian entry this year? Orthodox nuns with Kalashnikovs trying to reclaim the Kattegat?”
“For the record, my votes go to the Albanian diva and the Austrian drag queen. Not that I’m gay or anything. And I haven’t got a clue why the awful Armenian dirge is hot favourite. Especially looking forward to the Irish muscles boys and their out-of-sync diddly-diddly dancing, the Latvians on how to bake a cake and possibly the worst song ever presented to Eurovision, a misguided torch song massacred by a fat Belgian. It’s gonna be a corker.”
And the band played on.
Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. Forget the worst recession since the South Sea Bubble, dust off that cracked glitter ball and drag out those tarnished bacofoil hot pants. It’s time to get crushed by the sequined juggernaut that is the Eurovision Song Contest, the rightful heir to the fall of Communism. This year, the travelling freak show has pitched the big top in Malmö (pronounced Malmurrrr), Sweden. Expect high camp, a blizzard of glitzy ticker tape and enough dry ice to halt global warming. Expect virginal visions in white, gay-bar strippers, fake blonds where collars and cuffs don’t match, notes as flat as the Fens and tunes once heard, never remembered. Don’t expect ABBA. The land of the midnight sun and real blonds is throwing an enormous street party like a UEFA cup final but without the drunken thuggery. The annual warble-fest costs so much to stage it attracts its very own IMF bail-out. Let’s hope nobody votes for the unkindly named PIGS (Blighty might be joining that popular club any day now). Winning will send them over the fiscal cliff.
Turkey has thrown a hissy fit and withdrawn from the competition. TRT (the Turkish broadcaster) does not like changes to the voting rules in recent years (50/50 between the public and a panel of music experts) which it claims disadvantages the Turkish entry by reducing the influence of the Turkish diaspora across Europe. That’s the point, silly. TRT also objects to the automatic qualification of songs from the so-called ‘Big Five’ broadcasters (the BBC among them) that pay the lion’s share of the costs. If TRT wants a free ride to the final, it’ll have to sign a much bigger cheque. After all, he who pays the piper calls the tune. To top it all, TRT got its pantaloons in a twist over a lesbian kiss live on stage. At the semis, Finland’s Krista Siegfrid landed a sloppy smacker on the lips of one of her backing dancers. Krista doesn’t actually drink from the furry cup in her day job, she just objects to the Finnish Parliament’s refusal to vote on marriage equality. Her song ‘Marry Me’ is through to the final where she’s threatening to repeat the tonsil-tickling outrage. Whether Krista has qualified because she kissed to be clever or despite of it is anyone’s guess. Overcome with moral indignation and shock, TRT has pulled the show completely. As we all know, watching a bit of girl-on-girl action turns you lesbian and there are no lesbians in Turkey, the land where men are men and goats are nervous.
Britain’s entry is an old-school power ballad sung by the gravelly-voiced Welsh chanteuse of yesteryear, Bonnie Tyler, she whose heart was totally eclipsed in ’83 after she got lost in France in ’77. The song’s not half bad (and half good either) but it hardly matters. We could put up Sooty for all the difference it would make. Mark my words. It’ll be a heartache for Bonnie. She’ll need more than a hero to fight the rising odds against a rout by the former Warsaw Pact. Well, I suppose it serves us right for Iraq. Poor old Auntie Beeb keeps wheeling out the golden oldies with their careers behind them, presumably because no-one with a career in front of them would touch Eurovision; it’s the kiss of death. Despite the parochial politics and regional gerrymandering, we’ll be waving our little union flags, raising a glass of bubbly to the campest show on Earth and hoping against hope that we don’t come last.
Here’s Bonnie at full gritty throttle:
After the Hump’s disastrous showing at the farcical Caucasian Eurovision circus, we awoke to a thump at the door to match the thumping in my hung-over head. The removers launched into a fast frenzy of wrapping and packing at a speed I’ve never experienced in Turkey before. Our meagre chattels were efficiently boxed, labelled and loaded like a well-oiled Germanic assembly line. The procession of sweaty men was halted only momentarily by a traditional Turkish marching band – all monotonic horns and clashing drums – as it passed along the ancient street. Our fabulous Turkish neighbours popped across the courtyard with tea, cake and smiles. After the briefest of breaks and a quick fag with the fags, the boys chucked themselves back into the fray. The entire endeavour was all done and dusted in just three hours. We had shopped around for a few quotes but most of the silly prices were higher than the value of the family silver: it would have been cheaper to flog the whole lot off and start again. BacktoBodrum came to our rescue with Soyer International Removals – fast, friendly, and cost effective. Our goods will soon be sailing on high seas back to Blighty. We’ll be following them very soon, a suitcase each and handful of high hopes .